Services FAQs

Have questions about any of the services you might receive from a mental health professional at McGill? Keep reading!

If you have a question that hasn't been answered, wellness.hub [at] (subject: Wellness%20Hub%20FAQ%20Question) (send us a message) and we'll publish the answers on this page.

What's the difference between a counsellor, psychiatrist, mental health professional and clinician?

Clinician is an umbrella term used to refer to all of the professionals you might see at the Hub: counsellors, psychiatrists, Local Wellness Advisors, Access Advisors, doctors, etc.

A mental health professional is an umbrella term used to refer to both counsellors and psychiatrists, who specialize and have training in treating mental health issues.

counsellor is a particular kind of professional. At McGill, you can see them for short-term treatment for a mental health issue. They'll develop a wellness plan with you and may decide that one-on-one therapy is the best approach. 

psychiatrist is a mental health professional with a medical degree whose main form of treatment is usually medication for more severe mental health conditions. They require a referral from a doctor or McGill counsellor.

What's the first session with a counsellor like?

At your first appointment, you'll meet with your primary clinician, who will try to understand the challenges that you are facing, and together you'll develop a personalized wellness plan best suited to your needs.

If clinically appropriate, you may receive short-term therapy with the goal of helping you better cope with the challenges you are experiencing. Your personalized wellness plan might otherwise involve group therapy, peer support, a referral to a psychiatrist, etc.

This clinician will be the point of contact for follow-ups around your wellness plan. If you require or prefer long-term support, your clinician can refer you to resources in the community.

Why do students come to see a mental health professional?

Concerns are wide-ranging and cover everything you can experience as a student (and person). 

Students discuss personal issues like self-esteem, depression, anxiety, anger, grief, sexuality, relationships, family, etc.

They also discuss academic issues such as exam anxiety, procrastination, motivation and study skills, or career concerns related to vocational interests and decision making.

Will I benefit from meeting with a mental health professional?

As in all things, there are no absolute guarantees. Counselling is not a magic cure and there is generally no quick fix to many of life's concerns and problems.

What can and often does take place is an opportunity for individuals to discuss their concerns and issues in a relaxed and confidential atmosphere with an interested and objective professional.

Not everyone benefits from meeting with a mental health professional, but thousands of students have found it helpful in dealing with the academic, personal, and social challenges of university life. 

How many sessions will I have with my clinician?

The frequency and number of sessions is dependent on several factors, such as the nature of the difficulty and your readiness for change.

You can discuss this with your primary clinician when you create your wellness plan, which may be re-evaluated and changed if needed.

McGill mental health professionals' mandate is to offer short term support, which could range from one session to ten or more, depending on the circumstances.

If you require or prefer long-term support, they can help connect you with resources in the community.

What kind of training do graduate students doing their field placements for counselling have?

Each intern counsellor is closely supervised by a member of the clinical staff and has or is completing a graduate degree in counselling, psychology, social work or a related field. 

Why is a referral needed to see a psychiatrist?

Many classes of psychiatric symptoms can also be caused by physical health conditions (e.g. hypothyroidism can cause depressive symptoms) and can be ruled out by a general practitioner.

I'm experiencing a life crisis (e.g. the death of someone close to me, the loss of my home or a recent assault) — whom should I contact?

In these situations, it’s important to have as many campus resources as possible mobilized to support you. Please contact the Office of the Dean of Students.

They can coordinate a response with clinicians as well as other campus resources that would be appropriate.

How do I give feedback on a service?

You can give feedback online for any service that you've received at the Hub. All feedback is welcome and confidential. 

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